- Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
- Yahrzeit for the Yunge Bubbi- 1 Rosh Chodosh Iyar
- The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu
Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
This Shabbos is the Sheloshim for our dear Uncle, Avraham Mordechai Janowski. His parents, Eliyahu and Shoshana Bracha Janowski, had 4 children; Kelcha, Simon (my father-in-law), Sam, and the youngest son, Reb Avraham Mordechai. His kids, Rachel and Aryeh Benjamin, made a Kiddush for their father at Bnei Ruvain. I davened at Bnei Ruvain in honor of my uncle. I took Naftali with me. Of course Naftali disappeared and came back right before the opening of the ark. And of course, when the ark was about to be opened, Naftali zoomed up to the ark and opened it. Since Naftali was born, there was a new condition in the world. Naftali has first rights to opening the ark in the entire world, even if someone else was given the honor and paid for it
The Kiddush was sumptuous, including sushi salad. Aryeh Benjamin spoke beautifully about his father in law. He praised his wife, Rachel, for her dedication to her father.
I spoke about Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski, and then made a Siyum on Meschita Avodah Zarah. I felt a kinship to him. He and his wife graciously made a Shevah Brochos for me when I married Serka in May 1980. I was impressed by his family. They had a very nice suburban home on Cactus Drive in Toronto in the Bnei Torah neighborhood. I was (and some say, still) a ghetto Jew. My family and I lived in an apartment in the city. We were not upwardly mobile and did not move to the suburbs with the majority of Jews, primarily secular Jews. I would visit Reb Avraham Mordechai when I would go into Toronto. I did not realize his name was Avraham Mordechai. Avraham Mordechai is a major Gerrer name as it is the name of the oldest son of the Chidusshei Harim. The Janowski family in Europe was Gerrer Chassidim, so it is very lively that he was named for the Chidusshei Harim’s son (or the Imrei Emes).
Shalosh Seudas Meal – The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu
I spoke at the Shalosh Seudas meal. I dedicated my Torah to:
- The Sheloshim of my uncle Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
- The 85th Yahrzeit of my mother’s Bubbe, known as the Yunge Bubbi.
- To a speedy recovery for my mother who was in the hospital
When I first learned about Nadav and Avihu, I had a hard time with the unfairness of it all – to his father, Aaron, and the Jewish people. Is this the legacy of the Jewish people that even in a time of great joy, we have to have tragedy? What was their sin that had to be a tragedy? The simple answer is that, imagine at the inauguration of a President in the US, a soldier breaks protocol and does something on his own. That soldier would be reprimanded by either being put in the brig, reduced in rank, or even discharged from the Army. If it happened with a King, that soldier would in all likelihood be executed on the spot. What Nadav and Avihu did was equally as bad.
Let us understand the event in depth. The following Verses discuss the death of Nadav and Avihu and its aftermath.
Vayikra – Chapter 10:
Verse 1 tells us what Nadav and Avihu did –
And Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.
Verse 2 tells us how they died:
And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
Verse 3 tells us what Moshe told Aaron and that Aaron was silent, he accepted what happened:
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, [when He said], ‘I will be sanctified through those near to me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ “And Aaron was silent.
Verse 4 and 5 talk about removing the dead bodies –
- 4. And Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Draw near; carry your brothers (actually first cousins) from within the Sanctuary, to the outside of the camp.
- 5. So they approached and carried them with their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had spoken.
Verse 6 and7 tells Aaron and his remaining g sons that they should not go into mourning –
- 6. And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not leave your heads unshorn, and do not rend your garments, so that you shall not die, and lest He be angry with the entire community, but your brothers, the entire house of Israel, shall bewail the conflagration that the Lord has burned
- 7. And do not go out of the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” And they did according to Moses’ order.
Verse 7 – 11 warns Cohanim not to walk into the Ohel Moad after drinking wine.
Verse 12 goes back to the story of the dedication of the Mishkan.
Nadav and Avihu’s sin:
Aaron sees his dead sons. Aaron is beyond words, The Ranban says the Aaron is weeping loudly. At that moment Aaron was agonizing over the following:
1) He sees his two sons’ dead.
2) He also sees his sons ignore the two great leaders, their uncle and father, Moshe and himself. Not only that, they walked into the Mishkan after drinking wine. He is aghast.
Rashi on Verse 2 brings down two opinions. 1) Rebbe Eliezer who says that they decided a question of Jewish law themselves and did not go to their leaders, Moshe and Aaron. 2) Rebbe Yishmoel says that Nadav and Avihu entered the Mishkan after having drunk wine.
3) He blames himself. He feels he failed his kids.
Rashi on Verse 12 says that at as result of his sin by the golden calf, all of Aaron’s 4 sons were to die as punishment. Moshe prayers helped to save two of them.
4) Aaron is worried that even his remaining two sons would die.
In Verse 3 Moshe consoles Aaron and Rashi eloquently explains:
“ ‘וגו ‘הוא אשר דבר ה: THIS IS WHAT GOD SPOKE, etc. — Where had He spoken this? In the statement (Exodus 29:43), “And there I will be met by the children of Israel and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory (בכבודי).” Read not here בִכְבוֹדִי, “by My Glory” but בִּמְכֻבָּדַי, “through My honoured ones” (Zevachim 115b). “
Moses here said to Aaron: “ אָחִי אַהֲרֹן” – “Aaron My brother!” – with all the love of one brother to another – do not agonize over the circumstances and death of your sons –
“I knew that this House was to be sanctified by those who are beloved of the Omnipresent God and I thought it would be either through me or through thee; now I see that these (thy sons who have died) are greater than me and than thee!” (Leviticus Rabbah 12 .
Aaron – your sons were great people, greater then us two. The death of your two sons was preordained by God, their death had to happen at this time. Do not focus on our and their shortcomings, we are all human. What happened is Gods plan.
Aaron accepts Moshe’s words and is consoled as he silences himself.
Nadav is an accepted Jewish name.
Rashi on Verse 4 says that Moshe told Aaron’s nephews to remove the dead bodies, as not to disturb the joy of the dedication of the Mishkan. The Mishkan and its deduction was a great moment for the Jewish people and the Jewish people. The Mishkan is God’s place in this world. The acceptance by God and bringing his presence into the Mishkan is evidence that the sin of the golden calf was forgiven. Rashi In effect is saying the death of Nadav and Avihu in Gods plan is not a tragedy. in fact the Nadav and Avihi are rejoicing as their souls ascend heavenward towards God. If I may add, the same way we believe that those that were martyred in the holocaust, were embraced by God as their souls rose heavenward. Moshe understands and relates to Aaron that Nadav and Avihu in the next world are in joy realize they were integral to building and dedicating the Mishkan, therefore remove their bodies and let the joy continue. If I have the Chutzpah to suggest the martyrs of the holocaust were integral to creating a State of Israel and the building of Torah both in Israel and America.
During the week of Pesach Shenei I was by the Shul in Buckingham and Rabbi Unger spoke between Mincha and Maariv. Rabbi Unger mentioned a Chidusshei Harim. Pesach Shenei is discussed in Numbers 9:6-13. Mishael and Elzaphan want desperately to do a Korban Pesach and go to Moshe and Aaron expressing their desire to serve God like the rest of the Jews. Verse 8 says:
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם משֶׁ֑ה עִמְד֣וּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָ֔ה מַה־יְּצַוֶּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לָכֶֽם:
The Rim focuses on the last work in Verse 8 – לָכֶֽם:.
Moshe says, what God will answer “you”, how will He respond to your strong wish to get closer to God. The Rim continues and says that Hashem created a new law just for them. There is a make up Pesach sacrifice for them. This is something we find no where else in the Torah. This was enacted solely because of the desire for Mishael and Elzaphan for closeness to God. Perhaps this is the answer to Nadav and Avihu. Nadav and Avihu wanted to feel closeness to God. However, they decided for themselves how to get closer to God. Our spiritual needs cannot be met by innovating against the Torah. Mishaal and Elzaphan wanted the same close spiritual connection to God. In contrast to their cousins, they went to their leaders to Moshe and Aaron and said we want to feel this closeness to God; we want to bring a Pesach Sacrifice.